Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's My Path

It's happening.

Friends and fellow writers are doing it. They're accepting offers of representation, working with agents, selling their books and seeing their titles in print, held in hand. It's an awesome thing to see, to be an infinitesimal part of.

With each friend's success, I feel that much closer to my own. And yet I also feel further and further away.

Do I have what it takes, I ask? Maybe I don't write well enough, maybe my words aren't going to grab the attention of who matters most, maybe I don't represent myself in the best way possible, maybe...

If only...

Often times I see a writer who's a step - or several - ahead and I think, why isn't that me? What am I doing wrong? I think, they're doing something I'm not. And I may fall into a pity pit for a bit, feeling morose and doubtful and envious.

But then I'm reminded: I'm me. I am on my own path. Not wrong, different.

Mine.

I have to step back, look at what's best for me without comparing my steps to others', and let my path unfold before me.

As I keep this in mind, I will step sure-footed, with confidence and faith.


In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

38 comments:

Tess said...

Beautifully said. I've heard it takes every author 10,000 steps. If we are on step 8,000, we can't begrudge those who are on step 10,001. In that regard, we are all the same...just at different points on that path :)

Terri Tiffany said...

I know how you feel. I am so excited and happy for the bloggers we know who are doing it! It also makes me push a little harder and know that if they can, I can:)) Be encouraged today!
I am editing again an older book and decided to send it out as I haven't yet before I fix my other. Nothing ventured . . .

Jody Hedlund said...

I LOVE the verse at the end of your post today. And honestly, Janna, I think that no matter where we're at on our paths, we're constantly tempted to compare ourselves with others. I'm making some progress forward on the uphill, but I'm still filled with self-doubts and look at what fellow writers are doing and wonder if I measure up. It's so easy to do. And I bet even when we're published we'll find ways to sell ourselves short or compare (like with sales figures or something!). I guess we just have to keep reminding ourselves who is ultimately directing our steps.

Joanne said...

Janna, that's a great outlook to have, we're all on our own individual paths, winding in different directions. What's important is to keep moving forward with confidence, and what an inspiration is found in the success of fellow bloggers! Write on ...

Wendy said...

I like your path. That's why I became a follower yesterday. Keep at it!
~ Wendy

Melanie Avila said...

I think it's only natural to wonder those things. I read a post yesterday (I think on Murderati) that talked about how writers are a unique breed because we're genuinely happy for our friends' success and hope that there's still room for us, meaning we don't begrudge their success.

I'm truly happy for my friends when they've gotten agents & book deals, but I also haven't started querying yet. I'm sure those successes will sting a bit more when I get to that point.

Janna Qualman said...

Tess - An excellent point! definitely something to keep in mind. And it tells me we are here to help each other along the path, though shared experiences.

Terri - Encouragement is one of the strongest things we can pull from our fellow writers, I do believe.

Jody - That piece of scripture speaks to me more loudly than most. :)

Write on, Joanne. *hugs*

Wendy - Such sweet words! Thank you!

Melanie - I see the truth in that, absolutely. Thanks for sharing what you read yesterday.

Kristin Callender said...

I think all writers feel the same at times. No matter how much you continue on your own path, doing what feels right to you, there's always going to be that little voice of doubt that wonders if you're doing something wrong or not enough. I think it's that voice that makes up keep going and trying to be best we can.

Cindy said...

Janna, thank you for your post and your words. It's not easy to step back and say "I'm me and I'm on my own path" and I admire you for it.

ralfast said...

I hope some of that success rubs off as I stare down the barrel of the submission pipeline. Good luck to us all.

Kristen Painter said...

You can't compare your journey to anyone else's. It just doesn't work that way in this business.

Janna Qualman said...

Kristin - Could very well be!

Thank you, Cindy.

Rafael - *raises cup in a toast*

Kristin - A lesson we each have to learn in our own way, I suppose.

Janna Qualman said...

Sorry! KristEn. I have two followers with the same name now, different spellings! :)

Lady Glamis said...

Janna, I feel the same way. It's hard not to get jealous, but you are right. It is your own path. If we were all on the same path, that would create major UBER problems!

I honestly just plan to publish later in life. Right now doesn't feel right or sound right. I have to focus more on the craft than anything else.

Thank you for this post! It's helped me more than you know!

Janna Qualman said...

Lady - I understand what you mean. Agent Rachelle Gardner posted recently about the steps of writing, and how writing and honing the craft should come before the business part. And she not-too-long ago posted about taking our time, about not feeling like we had to rush to publish, because there's time for that later. She's wise!

Melissa Marsh said...

I feel like I'm in the exact same spot as you, Janna. Wondering why I haven't been picked yet by an agent, wondering why my novel hasn't burst on the publishing scene...but you're right. It's not MY time, but GOD'S time. I need to be reminded of that often.

spyscribbler said...

Oh yes, I love this post, Janna! There are some who would rather my path be much different, and it irritates me at times. They would rather I choose their path, but sheesh. I need the money where I'm at, and I rather like it. I'll do the NY thing when it's right for me, you know?

Good luck, Janna!

scarlethue said...

Isn't that true of all parts of life, not just of your writing progress. We're all on different paths, and all we can do is support each other along the way.

I heard an NPR blurb the other day that reminded me of you-- there's a website called Scrib, where writers can have their work published electronically for sale on hardware like Kindle. I thought it sounded kind of cool. One author said he's only releasing his latest book that way, and at two dollars a pop, he's making way more and reaching more people than he was the normal paper route.

Janna Qualman said...

Spy - Absolutely. And YOU know what's best for you. Follow the course you feel best!

scarlethue - How awesome! I see how there might be benefit to such a thing - as long as one doesn't mind the marketing that goes with it, but then it's needed regardless of method of publication. And how neat you thought of me! :)

Janna Qualman said...

Whoops, I missed Melissa! Yep, in His time. *fist bump*

Kara said...

It is difficult not to feel a little left out when the ones around you are moving on. Doubt so easily creeps in. A published writer once told me that the only way to the top is to reach down and help the person a few steps behind. I loved that, it is so neat that writers help each other, give advice and encouragement without feeling the need to try to be better or more successful than thier fellow writers!

Deb Shucka said...

I can so relate to this. The insecurity seems to be part of the path, no matter where we are on it. Thank you for the reminder that I'm not alone.

Lori Tiron-Pandit said...

You are so brave, Janna, to write from so deep in your heart. I feel like you too many times. Sometimes I get wise and think of my unique path too, sometimes I just prefer to sulk in the insecurity. It's OK, I guess. It helps me gain perspective, take a breath, reassess. It's an important stage.

Janna Qualman said...

Kara - Absolutely! What good news to share. I, too, love that we are so integral to each other.

Deb - Here's where my head shoots off to sing a song from High School Musical, a favorite at our house: We're all in this together... ;) And it's true!

Lori - If anything, I think it helps keep us humble. That's incredibly important to me. *hugs*

thedomesticfringe said...

You'll get there and until you do, we'll be standing by to root you on.
Good verse.

-FringeGirl

Kathryn Magendie said...

god, I have had and do have the same thoughts or similar thoughts.

When you doubt, when those voices whisper, just push ahead, push ahead -- that will be what separates you from someone who will never be published or whatever the goal is - the not giving up even when you really really want to --

it's such a tough business, but the language and writing and characters - that is the lovely wonderful part of it...write because you love it and then stiffen your back and plunge ahead, again and again and again....

Heck, even when you have a book published, you doubt yourself: I'm not selling as much as so and so; I'm not on a bestseller list; etc etc etc!

Janna Qualman said...

FG - I so appreciate your rootiness! ;)

Kat - So it never ends, does it?

Amy said...

You're so wise! I feel much of the same things you feel when I hear of others nabbing agents and getting published. Thanks for reminding me that being on my own path is okay and right where I need to be!

kimmirich said...

Janna, this is all normal responses to something you feel should be in your reach. For me, I was always highy encouraged when another made it as it gave me hope -- faith that I can do it too. And Janna can do it too!! I love your voice and I feel it's just within your reach.
hugs

Janna Qualman said...

Amy - We need signs by our desks or something, don't you think? Daily reminders.

Kimmi - Thank you so much. I can't tell you how encouraging that is.

Jill Kemerer said...

Hi Janna, I found your blog linked from Jody's and can totally relate. I've said the same words many, many times this year. "That's her path, not mine."

Comparisons only serve to put one higher than the other and when I see someone else as being higher, of course I'm going to feel lower! Yuck! I don't even allow the comparisons to come in my head anymore. I literally shut them off.

Thanks for a great post.

Janna Qualman said...

Hi, Jill! Thanks so much for visiting. And I think, as many have mentioned here, it's important to leave comparison out of the equation for so many aspects of life. I'll try like you, to completely lock such thoughts out. Thanks!

Jeannie Campbell said...

saw this post from jody's. i really like how you put this...summed up exactly how i feel many days. blessings to you!

Janna Qualman said...

Hi, Jeannie, welcome! And same to you. :)

Janet said...

You'll get there. You're not allowed to start doubting yourself till you reach my age, OK?

Janna Qualman said...

Janet - Pfft! Age is just a number, remember? (It just so happens yours is higher than mine...)

Woman in a Window said...

Oh boy, this is one terribly important lesson. To compare is to self destruct. And it is just not the same for any two people. You believe in yourself. You'll make it.

Janna Qualman said...

Woman - That's the biggest thing, right? Believing in oneself?